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Meet Cathy King of Canines With a Cause

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cathy King.

Hi Cathy, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
My “Canines With a Cause” story began with years working in animal rescue, and time spent in animal shelters looking into the eyes of dogs I knew I couldn’t save.

Working in animal rescue is eye-opening, with so many people abandoning their four-legged companions, even when they grow old and have spent their short lives giving unconditional love to their people partners.

Stories from people who adopted these dogs and found out what they had to offer; a friend for a lonely child, home-bound due to illness, comfort for a widow missing her husband, a reason to leave the house, get out and get back to life, and a partner for Veteran suffering from the horrors of war.

These stories were my inspiration to start the organization. Partnering with the Veterans Administration Hospitals and Department of Corrections helped make it happen. After the dogs leave the shelter they are placed in state prisons for a behavior assessment.

Training the shelter dogs in prison allows our organization to assess the dogs for skills needed to partner with veterans suffering from PTS, it also allows us to find a proper home for those who don’t make the cut. Search and rescue, drug or bomb sniffing, or just a good family dog, they find a good home or job.

After placement Veterans train their dogs, gaining handling skills and creating the need bond until certification as a service dog. CWAC now has locations in Reno, NV, Sacramento, CA, and Coeur d’Alene, ID.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Several years with little or no pay and dealing with very fragile beings, shelter dogs, and war Veterans. Every day is difficult and rewarding.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
Canines With a Cause (CWAC) rescues dogs from local shelters, the dogs are placed in State Prisons where they live and train with inmates. The inmates assess the dogs for health and behavior issues, appropriate dogs are placed free of charge with veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury after training is complete and dogs achieve certification.

Based upon their assessment, dogs are also placed with children suffering from PTSD, in a substance abuse recovery home, or placed for adoption with loving families.

CWAC provides free training classes for veterans, enabling them to develop skills needed to train their own dogs and become experienced handlers. Dogs can provide veterans with many benefits: simple companionship, motivation to get out of bed in the morning, and unconditional and non-judgmental love.

Learning to train the dog also helps to get veterans out of their homes and involved again in civilian life; it helps them develop their emotional coping skills and resiliency, and the positive training techniques our instructors use to teach them to guide their dog and solve problems using methods that are enjoyable for the dog and healthy for the veteran.

The dog and the handler create a strong bond through working together, and the dog is trained for specific tasks to help the veteran lead a more productive, less stressful life. The benefits of this program are three-fold. According to the Salt Lake City VA Hospital, between 5-7 veterans are committing suicide weekly in the Northern Utah area. Over 18,000 companion animals were killed in Utah shelters in 2016.

Recidivism among Utah’s prisoners is at 46%. By bringing the dogs together with both inmates and veterans, CWAC’s programs save the lives of dogs in need, help veterans find ways to keep living and coping, and teach offenders work and life skills that help them give back to their communities.

What are your plans for the future?
No big changes. We are adding more mindfulness programs for our veterans and programs exclusive to women veterans

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